Football: Dykes sees success model in A’s

As he aspires to build his football program, coach Sonny Dykes doesn’t need to look far to find a model for success.

“There’s a lot of different ways to win in football and sports in general,” he said Tuesday during a media briefing, three days after the close of spring workouts.

“The Yankees have won by having the biggest payroll and the biggest superstars. And the A’s have won by having the smallest payroll, no superstars and a great team.

“You have to figure out who you are. I think right now we’re a little bit more like the A’s than the Yankees. And that’s fine.”

What that means to Dykes and the Bears a year after staggering to a 1-11 record is creating a culture where the whole is bigger than its parts. Cal’s roster isn’t bulging with five-star recruits, but can achieve beyond those expectations, Dykes said.

“We’ve got to kind of embrace that and buy into that. I just believe that is how you sustain a program, by having good people and creating a good culture and getting guys to play hard for each other on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

“I think we’re much further along than we were, but I’m not quite sure we’re there yet.”

As players head toward final exams in two weeks and into their offseason, Dykes sees the emergence of leaders, such as offensive linemen Chris Borrayo and Steven Moore, running back Daniel Lasco, defensive end Brennan Scarlett and defensive back Stefan McClure, among others.

Those players will be responsible for organizing and motivating their teammates in offseason workouts and weight training. The months leading to the start of camp on Aug. 4 will be critical, Dykes said.

“It’s a different atmosphere now than it was last spring,” he said. “I still think we have miles to cover to get us to where I want to be as a program, where guys are invested in each other and playing hard for not just themselves, but for their teammates and the university and their classmates.”


Grading his offense’s progress during spring ball, Dykes said it’s the details that needs honing.

“That’s really what makes offensive football work,” he said. “It’s not the big plays, it’s making sure you get four yards. Making sure you don’t have negative plays, and methodically move the chains. We made a little bit of progress that way.”


On defense, Dykes said he saw spring improvement in effort, confidence and clarity.

“As a result, I think we’re playing a little bit faster,” he said. “I think our tackling was much better. Still needs to improve, but I think it was much better.”

After allowing 45.9 points per game last season, Dykes saw a more confident bunch under first-year coordinator Art Kaufman. “I thought that was important for our program,” he said.


Center Jordan Rigsbee sustained nothing more serious than an ankle sprain during Saturday’s spring scrimmage.

Defensive end Puka Lopa underwent surgery last Thursday to repair ligament damage in his ankle. Dykes described the procedure as simple and said Lopa should be back working out in another month.


Among the class arriving this summer, Dykes said the coaching staff expects cornerback Darius Wright, defensive tackle David Davis and offensive tackle Dominic Granado — all junior college transfers — to challenge immediately for playing time.

He also said freshman running back Tre Watson, who rushed for more than 3,400 yards and 48 touchdowns last fall at Centennial-Corona, will show up determined to make his mark.

“He has a lot of confidence,” Dykes said. “He saw an opportunity to play early here. I think it was one of the things that was attractive to him.”

Jeff Faraudo

  • HeteroscedasticBear

    Interesting. Before NSD, Dykes said he’d be surprised if he didn’t sign a top three class in the Pac 12. We know that didn’t happen. Now he’s asking us to look to the As. Well, the As are successful, but I think the last time they won the world series was with superstars (Canseco, McGuire, Eckersley, et al). Billy Beane and co gets the As to the playoff but that’s about it. That’s not the kind of success Cal fans want. We want BCS success. Rose Bowl Success. Frankly, right now I’d be happy with Billy Beane type of success, given the 1-11 season we had last year. But I’m not sure Sonny’s a Billy Beane.

  • Juancho

    Sonny realizes his salary is more in line with Yankees than A’s right?


    where is sonnys rank of pay in the pac 12 ?? 3rd from the bottom.. with CP getting 3 million cal was not in on the hunt at all . .we are ballin on a budget …pinstripe money is cp money 3 mill plus

  • Rollonubears

    Ever since Moneyball, every organization in the world thinks you can have tremendous success with a meager “budget.” Never mind the details.

  • Calduke

    I think a better analogy would have been the
    Oakland Raiders

  • eastcoastbear

    Agree with the comment below just yesterday we were promised a top three class in the pac 12. now we have to win without star players. let’s hope our new next FB coach is more like our new BB coach. Sony clearly jumped to the big leagues too soon.

  • BlakeStreetBear

    “Sony clearly jumped to the big leagues too soon.”

    Clearly huh?

    Here we go again with the Sonny judgement based on a single horrifically injury-marred season that included one of the toughest schedules in the whole country and a true freshman starting QB in a pass-happy offense. I will wait to pass judgement on Sonny and co until after the 2015 season. If the program’s arc is not trending back toward relevancy with Rose Bowl aspirations then I will be judgmental as hell, but not sooner. The defense was horrendous last year, Sonny fired the coach. Let’s see what happens this fall before we start making grandiose and smug statements like the above, please? #tryoptimismforachange Go Bears!

  • Juancho

    BSB, to play devils advocate, Sonny has never taken a team to a bowl game. So let’s not act like he had this tremendous track record of results at La Tech. He had a prolific offense in a weak conference.

  • Rollonubears

    sonny’s gotta do better than 3 wins this year or i think he’s toast, unless we keep it close in almost all the games. if we end the year with 3 wins and a bunch of blowouts, he’s gotta go. he’s been all talk since day one. he’d be a successful politician.

  • Rob Z

    The entire analogy is a bad one.

  • eastcoastbear

    I think we can safely he is no Mora. I certainly hope to proven wrong. Season will be here soon enough.

  • GoBears49

    Would love to hear Sonny’s fall plans for Luke Rubenzer. I thought he was a “everybody has a chance of playing immediately” kinda guy, but that might be pretty stupid, and needlessly burn up a year of Rubenzer’s eligibility, unless Goff gets hurt or is not performing well and Hinder and Boehm aren’t either.

  • Wehofx

    C Petersen’s run at Boise is analogous to A’s.

    Per twitter: we offered TakUnfortunately he’s getting big time interest.


    Hoops Hijack from twitter:

    @AGuyNamedNam: sigh RT @EvanDaniels: Four-star PG Ahmaad Rorie tells Scout that he asked for and was granted a release from his LOI to California.

    According to twitter rumors rorie is a decuire guy.